With fewer than 40 hours left in 2011, it seems like a good time to think about what 2012 holds in store. There are plenty of predictions about what we can expect in technology, based on what exists now, and the current trends. I am going to take a slightly different approach, though.
What follows is a technology wish list for 2012 that are not a predictions per se. The wishes exist on their own merits without regard for current technology. At the same time, the wishes are not so fantastic that they are beyond the realm of possibility.
With that in mind, here we go:
Better Battery Life
The world has gone mobile. From both a consumer and business perspective, more people are relying on notebooks, smartphones, and tablets to connect from virtually anywhere. The problem is that "virtually anywhere" is usually lacking in power outlets, so these devices need to have the juice to get through the day...at least.
There have been significant strides in this area. My iPad 2 seems to last forever, and my current notebook can plow through most of a work day on a single charge. Smartphones seem to be heading in the wrong direction, though -- both the iPhone 4S and the recently launched Galaxy Nexus seem to drain quicker than their predecessors -- and there is still room for improvement.
The first wish for 2012 is battery performance from mobile devices that allow you to roam the world with confidence, without scrambling to recharge in the middle of the day.
Less Adapter Confusion
While we're on the topic of power, why does every single device have to re-invent the connector used to power or recharge it? If you are traveling with a laptop, tablet, smartphone, and/or e-reader, it is not inconceivable that you need to carry four separate chargers. If you happen to forget one, you are probably screwed because there is little standardization and the odds of you finding a random charger that fits your proprietary connection are slim to none.
The point of each is to simply move the electricity from the wall, or through your PC. There is no need for each vendor -- actually each device because some vendors aren't even consistent across devices -- to require some unique connector to make that happen. I wish technology would pick a charging connector and stick with it.
Fewer (Or Zero) Outages
Funny thing about wireless and Internet service providers -- they have no qualms making excuses and justifying system outages for the services you're paying for, but they seem to have little sense of humor or appreciation for any "temporary outage" of your payments. It seems reasonable if you are paying for a service to expect that service to be delivered as agreed upon.
Yet, major providers like RIM and Verizon have experienced service outages lasting for days with little more than an "oops, we're sorry". Credits applied for disruption of service are typically paltry, and offer little consolation for not having a functional device for days at a time.
(Reliable) 4G Everywhere
While we're at it, lets lump in dead zones and outdated wireless service. This is 2012 (or at least it will be in a couple days). Users should not have to deal with dropped calls on a daily basis, or go out of their way to navigate around known dead zones.
Even without the dead zones, though, users who select a device or provider based on the promise of 4G (or even 3G for that matter), should be able to use that service virtually anywhere. 4G service is limited to specific metropolitan areas in most cases, and even 3G networks have holes like Swiss cheese. At any given time it is a crap shoot to figure out whether my wireless devices will be able to connect on 3G, or if they will fall back to some pathetically slow legacy network.
Wireless providers need to take all that money we're pouring in, and invest it in a robust, reliable infrastructure capable of actually delivering the speed and quality of service that they advertise.
Fluent, Flexible Voice Interaction
Siri is great. But, Siri is limited to only the iPhone 4S, and even on the iPhone 4S Siri has limited capabilities. So, for the 2012 technology wish list, let's add voice interaction, a' la Siri, that is more platform diverse, and more comprehensive in its capabilities.
For starters, I'd just like to see Siri offered across the Apple ecosystem. I can't see any reason why the same Siri voice interaction shouldn't work just fine on my iPad 2 and MacBook Air as well as my iPhone 4S. Beyond that, though, it would be nice to have Siri -- or Siri-like capabilities -- available on devices beyond just Apple.
Aside from that, I wish for 2012 that the functionality of Siri (or other voice interaction tools) is expanded. You should be able to open apps, or take pictures using voice commands.
In 2012, can we please get pooled data plans? I have been preaching pooled data for some time, and it appears that Verizon has something along those lines planned. It doesn't make sense that my mobile devices share a pool of minutes when it comes to talk time, but that each one has to have its own separate data plan, with its own separate expense and pool of megabytes.
I'll take that one step farther, and say that the data pool should include all of my data -- not just mobile. Rather than having one bill for home broadband, and separate bills for every mobile device, I should be able to figure out how much total bandwidth I need, and purchase one pool that can be shared by all.
The world of technology is becoming increasingly diverse. It is not unusual for someone to have a Windows PC, an Android smartphone, and an iOS tablet. So, let's wrap up with a wish that software become more platform agnostic in 2012.
Whether it's a game like Angry Birds, productivity tools like Microsoft Office, or cloud storage like Box.com, people should be able to use the same tools across all of their devices. And, more importantly, those tools should be kept in sync, and offer as much consistency in both features and feel as possible.
There you have it. Do you have any 2012 technology wishes that didn't make this list? Are there any on this list that strike a nerve for you as well, or that you think shouldn't be on the list? I look forward to hearing what everyone else thinks should be on the 2012 technology wish list in the comments.
Happy New Year!